Tennis courts serve up a debate

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The debate over new tennis courts went back and forth just like a tennis match at Groveport Village Council’s committee of the whole meeting on June 16.

Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert sponsored an ordinance to add two tennis courts to the existing three courts in Degenhart Park at an estimated cost of $80,000.

Hilbert noted this would create five tennis courts in the village that could fulfill the requirements for league play.

However, Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Lund reported that insufficient space, limited parking, and existing underground utilities at Degenhart Park make the idea of adding two courts in the park unworkable.

Lund noted another option would be to build five tennis courts in the more spacious Groveport Park after a parks master plan is created.

In a written report to council Lund stated, "Staff recommends council not pursue the construction of any tennis courts at this time. The need for additional tennis courts and the surveying of sites best suitable for additional tennis courts can be addressed during the park system master plan process."

Lund said firms had until June 20 to submit their qualifications to create the parks master plan. It would take about six weeks to select a firm and then another six to 12 months to complete the plan.

"The master plan would give the community the opportunity to voice their opinions about what they want in all their parks," said Lund.

Hilbert at first balked at waiting for the parks master plan, stating she’d like to see five new tennis courts at Groveport Park next year.

"There’s room out there for five courts…the longer we wait, the more it will cost," said Hilbert.

However, Hilbert later relented and she’d be in favor of waiting for the parks master plan to see what residents want.

Council members serve and volley

Councilman Ed Rarey said he could back five tennis courts at Groveport Park.

"It’s better to bite the bullet now," he said. "It’ll draw more people there, be more visible, and there’s more parking."

Though he didn’t attend the meeting, Councilman Ed Dildine sent a note saying he could support the five courts at Groveport Park, but preferred to wait for the results of the parks master plan.

Councilman Shawn Cleary was adamant in his opposition to five new tennis courts at Groveport Park.

"I’m not in favor of five," Cleary said. "I can support three."

"Five courts are needed for league play," replied Hilbert, saying players would have to wait if there were only three courts.

"Let ’em wait," said Cleary, adding that he feels leagues take up court time and block (access to the courts) for non-league players.

Hilbert said the village has recreation offerings such as the golf course, recreation center, aquatic center, softball diamonds, and the new bike path and asked, "Why can’t we do something for tennis players?"

Cleary said he felt there are other things in the village that are more important for council’s funding considerations.

A suggestion was made to use the existing tennis courts at Degenhart Park and three new courts at Groveport Park for league play, but Hilbert countered, "You don’t split up softball teams and you don’t split up golf foursomes and send them to different sites, why do it for tennis?"

Council will consider the tennis court issue further at future meetings.

Heritage Park news

Rarey said he wants to see restroom facilities built in Heritage Park. He said the park is heavily used for community programming, concerts, summer movies, plays, and Apple Butter Day.

"We’ve put up with Port-a-Johns for too many years," said Rarey.

Public Works Superintendent Dennis Moore replied, "The cost for restrooms at that site are greater than you think."

Added Engineer Steve Farst, "Restrooms are expensive."

Finance Director Ken Salak stated the cost for restrooms in Heritage Park could cost an estimated $100,000 to $125,000.

Part of the problem is that the sewer line in the park is quite deep and a new restroom facility would also have to meet American Disability Act (ADA) requirements.

Other options would be to revamp the former Hamler house on the park property for use as a restroom. There are also water and sewer hook ups on the former trailer park site north of the park across Wirt Road.

"It’s always more feasible to put it where you have a sewer outlet already," said Moore.

Farst will look into creating a proposal for a restroom facility in the park.

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